Reviews from the Boz

My old friend Roy Boswell kindly sent a batch of movie recommendations for me. A few of them are reviewed here too. Roy got rejected by my spam software – if this is happening to you please send me an email! I’m trying to find good settings for it. Read on for Roy’s reviews…

King of Masks. “The Kid,� except with a fading street magician instead of a boxer and in Chinese. It’s 30’s China during hard times and that’s pretty grim. Culturally interesting. The kid is really cute and has spunk, but played with humanity and honesty, not just to get next to you. Beautiful cine. A little manipulative but heartbreaking-warming. ****+

Wit. Emma Thompson as an academic dying of cancer. A terrific movie. It made me pick up John Donne. I read, “Death be not Proud,� to my aunt when she was failing; she took my copy and had it read at her memorial service. If Ms. Thompson was Japanese, she would be declared a national treasure. *****

Hero. The most indescribably beautiful Hong Kong action film ever – sounds like a contradiction, I know. Commitment that trivializes everyday life. Breathtaking. ***+

Bubba Ho Tep. Through an identity mix-up the real Elvis lives out his senior years in a retirement home in anonymity somewhere in east Texas, reflecting on impotence and the meaning of life. Things pick up when oldsters start dying at a clip and Elvis and his buddy, JFK (not really, he’s black, he just thinks he’s JFK, or maybe…), go up against the soul stealing mummy, Ho Tep. Bruce Campbell has Elvis at 80 nailed. Great lines, many very funny, some thought provoking. Very offbeat. ****

Collateral. If you saw Steel Magnolias you will be less surprised by this stretch by Tom Cruise. He’s a grey haired hit man, cool and deadly as a snake and he quickly figures out his unwilling driver, the cabbie, Jamie Foxx, while they make the rounds of a great looking LA at night working down his list. Easy and fun to watch. ***

Ju-on: The Grudge. Whenever there is an American remake of a foreign film, I like to try and see the original first then watch the remake. I haven’t seen the recent remake but this Japanese original is creep city – and very good. I’m sure it’s less obvious and bloody than our version but don’t think this thing won’t get to you. A lot of it takes place on bright sunny days in cheery houses or in public buildings but somehow the director makes this setting as scary as the original 30’s Dracula set. You get the feeling that no one is safe, nowhere. ****

The Girl With The Pearl Earring. I wondered what they could possibly come up with; the painting is so perfect. What a surprise. Extraordinary cine. It’s one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. The story’s not bad, either. My girlfriend and I had an argument about why the heroine seduced her boyfriend – I’ll wait for your take. ***+

Ikiru. Speaking of Akira Kurosawa, here’s an atypical piece. After finding out he’s terminally ill with cancer, a government official contemplates the meaning of his life and the impact he’s had on his family and society. Great crowd scenes but in offices, clubs, and streets rather then battlefields. It sounds depressing but it’s uplifting. *****

And finally, Sister Wendy on painting, Rumpole of the Bailey on the English advocacy system and the Bard, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, to make me laugh and squirm uncomfortably at the same time.

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2 thoughts on “Reviews from the Boz

  1. Hey this is great. Thanks. I just cancelled my cable tv and bought a dvd player with next month’s fees so I’m lookng for good movies.

    Of these, I have seen Hero, Collateral, and the Rumpole series and agree with the assessments. Thanks Roy!

  2. Sister Wendy is awesome. She appears to be floating while she is moving across the screen. Do her feet even hit the ground? She is so much fun to watch, and does a fantastic job of describing the masterpiece. Before this I had never heard a nun mutter “breasts” before!

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